Admission to higher education

Sweden has a more uniform system of admission to higher education than many other countries. National admission regulations are defined in the Higher Education Act and the Higher Education Ordinance and in regulations issued by the Swedish Council for Higher Education.

The vast majority of admissions are pooled. The Swedish Council for Higher Education is responsible for pooled admissions on behalf of the HEIs, but the individual HEIs make the official decision to admit students. There is a single joint official website for applications to higher education institutions in Sweden, www.universityadmissions.se.

Many roads into higher education

Detailed national regulations apply mainly to the admission of HE entrants to first-cycle education. There are also regulations on admission to second- and third-cycle education, but these are less comprehensive. General entry requirements for first- and second-cycle studies normally include a degree from a university preparatory upper-secondary programme. But there are several other roads into higher education in Sweden. Upper-secondary vocational degrees can also provide qualification in some circumstances, and there are good options for meeting entry requirements through studies in municipal adult education for upper-secondary qualifications. Prior learning can also meet basic entry requirements if the person is judged to be able to benefit from the education.

Selection rules and procedures

Fulfilment of the entry requirements does not guarantee admission. Government funding sets a limit to how many students can be accepted at an HEI, and selection criteria are used if there are more applicants than can be admitted. All first-cycle courses and programmes, apart from those that lead to the award of qualifications in the fine, applied and performing arts, use more or less the same criteria. These are based mainly on final school grades or results from the Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test (högskoleprovet). The Higher Education Ordinance lists what selection criteria may be invoked. It also contains regulations on the evaluation of final school grades.

Admission to third-cycle education

Applying for third-cycle education leading to the award of a licentiate degree or doctoral degree is more similar to applying for a job. Admission is only possible if the student has been appointed to a doctoral studentship or other form of employment, unless the student has some other form of guaranteed funding for the entire period of study. Normally, funding can only be provided for the official period of study. This means that doctoral programmes have to be completed in four full years, licentiate programmes in two.